Support 110 years of independent journalism.

5 March 2010

Brown: my regrets over postwar reconstruction

He signed a blank cheque for the assault on Iraq.

By James Macintyre

At the second session of his appearance before Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry into the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Gordon Brown has now expressed some regrets, specifically over the way in which the postwar plans and reconstruction efforts failed.

He said there were lessons to be learned — including for the “other” major war in which the UK is involved, Afghanistan — and that those lessons were being learned.

At one point, however, he made this revealing statement: “I can’t take personal responsibility for everything that went wrong.” This is already being interpreted, fairly or not, as an indication that he holds Tony Blair responsible for British failings.

On the other hand, Brown has also made it clear that while leading the Treasury, he put up “no financial barrier” on the secondary issue of war resources. He and the Treasury made “allowances for whatever option was chosen”, he said. In other words, he signed a blank cheque, in effect, as early as 2002.

Select and enter your email address Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A quick and essential guide to domestic politics from the New Statesman's Westminster team. A weekly newsletter helping you understand the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email. Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

This, if true, has two implications. It enables Brown to dodge potentially damaging charges of neglect of those troops who died. But it also shows the British electorate that he was deeply involved in the war. Meanwhile, many voters may, as I have said, be seeking “closure” in the shape of a post-Iraq prime minister (and no, David Cameron, that doesn’t mean you).

Content from our partners
How trailblazers are using smart meters to make the move to net zero
How heat network integration underpins "London's most sustainable building"
How placemaking can drive productivity in cities – with PwC